Alternatives for the Bureau of Indian Affairs Public School Financial Assistance Program

CED-79-112: Published: Sep 6, 1979. Publicly Released: Sep 17, 1979.

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The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Department of the Interior, began a 3-year phaseout in 1976 of its Johnson O'Malley basic support program, which provides funds for public schools to assist in educating Indian children. A review was made of the management of the basic support and tuition portions of the Johnson O'Malley program in order to: identify alternatives for the Congress to consider in deciding the Johnson O'Malley basic support program's future; evaluate management of the basic support program; and determine the legality of Johnson O'Malley tuition payments to school districts educating BIA dormitory students whose legal residence is in the same State but outside of the school district.

All of the schools and school districts visited by GAO during the review received impact aid and basic support funds. It was found that basic support program funds have been provided to public schools and school districts without ensuring that the educational needs of Indian students were met. The funds were provided even though some of the schools did not, as required by program regulations, have at least 70 percent Indian enrollment or demonstrate that they needed basic support program funds to meet minimum State educational requirements and standards.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: If the Congress decides that BIA should continue administering the basic support program, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to: (1) develop adequate criteria for determining whether basic support program funds are meeting the educational needs of Indian students attending public schools; (2) seek legislative clarification from the Congress on whether basic support program funds should be used to meet the minimum or higher educational standards and requirements of States; and (3) strengthen the procedures and practices of BIA to ensure that schools and school districts meet established criteria to qualify for funding.

    Agency Affected:


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